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Fipple Consort

Fipple Consort - Picture by Andy McDuffie

Fipple Consort

Sean O’Shea interviews musician Chris Green founder of Fipple Consort a recorder ensemble which has recently been delighting audiences in cafes and pubs around Hastings.

Govern these ventages
with your fingers and thumb,
give it breath with your mouth,
and it will discourse most eloquent music.
Look you, these are the stops.

Shakespeare, Hamlet

Just before Christmas I attended a performance by Fipple Consort at the Stag Inn on Saturday lunchtime. The programme included early to more modern pieces, including Ronde, Ah Robin Gentle Robin, two traditional French Tunes, four Danceries, The Nutcracker Suite and Jingle Bells. Instruments comprised sopranino, descant, treble, tenor recorders with occasional bass. Chris Green was accompanied by Sian Hayward, Lynda Ridley, John Russell, Judy Davies, Caroline Gurden and Teresa Beacham.

It was not the kind of venue that one would expect such a performance but it went down very well with the gathered customers and added to the festive cheer. A credit to the musicians who must have felt a bit daunted at the prospect of playing in such a setting, and credit too to the landlord, Alan Griffiths, for his continuing encouragement and support of new groups from the growing pool of Hastings’ diverse musical talent.

You’re from the North originally. How did you find your way to Hastings?

From childhood I had always dreamed of living in a tall house by the sea playing music. As a child, I thought that you had to have magic fairy dust sprinkled on you to be born and then live by the sea. I loved day trips to Blackpool and the illuminations. Hastings doesn’t have lights like Blackpool but it has the colours of the funfair and all the seaside stuff I loved back then. Over thirty years ago I had the chance to live and work in Hastings. I live in a tall Victorian terrace with sea views and have had a career and leisure time in music. Magic fairy Dust or the Heart’s Desire of a child ?… dream came true.

Could you say a bit about your journey in music and what have been some of your musical influences?

My passion for music was genetically inherited from my birth mother. I didn’t discover that she was musical until I was thirty-nine when I was able to find details about my birth. From the age of five my adoptive parents ignored my pleas for a piano and music lessons until I was fourteen when dad realised that I was passionate about studying music. (Unbeknown to me then, they had information about my birth mother and her musicality and wanted to steer me away from any traits connected to her.) I then had four years to reach grade eight on flute and piano so that I could study for a music degree.

I’ve been involved in a variety of musical ventures. Folk music and morris dancing, composing music for an amateur theatre group, writing musicals for children, composing and playing music live for contemporary dance/story piece by Andy McDuffy called The Weatherman, playing in a ceilidh band (recorder, melodion and xylophone). So my influences have come from a wide variety of sources after my initial classical training. In my work, I teach class music lessons and recorders to primary school children. I also taught class music to children with autism for many years but have now semi-retired and continue with just my mainstream work.

I think Yehudi Menhuin has been a great influence. He said that it was easy to criticise others in their playing – any fool can do that. The real test of a great teacher and music facilitator is whether they can take the good bits and build on them to encourage children or adults to improve their musical skills.

Recorder ensemble

Recorder ensemble - Philippe Bolton

What gave you the idea for a recorder ensemble and what have been your aims in setting this group up?

I’ve played the recorder since I was eight years old at primary school. I learnt to play the treble a year later. At secondary school, I was fortunate enough to meet up with a number of girls who also loved playing the recorder. For six years we had a group that entered festivals all over the North West and played semi-professionally for various events. Twenty years ago I belonged to an adult quartet, also semi-professional but then work and children took over.

This year, I wanted to get back to recorder ensemble playing with adults and see where we might be able to go with it. For me, the recorder is the most beautiful instrument of all and I’d love to see more adults playing. I teach over fifty children aged seven to eleven, in four groups, at my school so I’d love to see them carry it on.

What are the criteria for your choice of repertoire?

Variety of styles from early to modern. I like a wide range and look for music that our group members can play with a little bit of challenge. That way, we build up our skills and confidence.

Fipple Consort performing at The Stag Inn, Christmas 2014

Fipple Consort performing at The Stag Inn, Christmas 2014 - picture SOS

It’s not often one can get to listen to a recorder ensemble in a pub. How do you think your gig at the Stag Inn was received and might you be back?

We’ve had good feedback from different sources. Many people have said how lovely it was to hear the blend of different recorders. One four year old was dancing to our music! Alan Griffiths at The Stag loves music and is open to variety. If he’ll have us, ‘We’ll be back’.

How do you envisage this group developing – at what venues do you hope to perform, and is there possibly a CD on the horizon?

We’ve only been together since September of this year so we’ve come a long way with a thirty-minute programme already. I think we have a very good group here and, as long as everybody continues to enjoy playing, we’ll carry on adding to our repertoire and playing out when we can. I expect we’ll build up more challenging pieces and I’d like to see us play in St. Clement’s Church as part of Old Town week.

I imagine you’re a born organiser. What do you get up to when you’re not directing the consort or other musical activities, and how do you relax?

I like being outside, gardening, walking the dogs, getting up late, reading detective novels and writing one of my own, cooking vegetarian and vegan food.

I agree with Tim Minchin’s take on life….don’t have a blinkered idea of a ‘goal’, let stuff float into your peripheral vision so that you are open to something you never considered or even knew about. I learnt to make chocolate from scratch last year because of a chance remark someone made to me at a party, for example. I’ve made a textile wall hanging in a workshop this year after reading an article in a local paper about women’s history workshops and it’s now part of an exhibition at the museum. So, I get up to lots of things that float by me!

Is Hastings home now or do you plan to venture further afield?

Definitely home.

What would be your message for potential visitors to Hastings in terms of its musical and other attractions?

There’s music to suit all tastes in Hastings. If you just like to listen you can find free music in so many different pubs or pay modest prices to hear and see excellent performances from Opera South East, classical music choirs etc. The standard of amateur music making is extremely high but there are also professional musicians who live here and are often to be found playing locally for free. We have so many events that involve live music in many venues both inside and outdoor.

If you want to be involved, there are many groups to join or find other like minded people and set up your own. We have a lovely Old Town to wander round, great food at the numerous restaurants and cafes, a fabulous cafe on the West Hill with amazing views, lots of independent shops and the sea, West Hill, East Hill and country park to enjoy. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  • Fipple Consort

Early music to modern

Available for bookings or events

Contact Sian at or Chris Green at

 SOS  March 2015


Posted 13:32 Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015 In: SOS

Also in: SOS

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